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The Christian LeBlanc Interview – The Young and the Restless

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This week’s special On-Air On-Soaps birthday boy is three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Christian LeBlanc.  Known for his extraordinary performances as the quirky legal eagle, Michael Baldwin, whose past and family put the “D” in dysfunctional, LeBlanc is heralded as one of the greatest dramatic daytime performers ever to hit our small screens.  But, many have also noticed the amazing timing and comedic brilliance of this guy, both on and off the screen.  Just a few weeks ago, after watching soap pal, Days of our Lives star Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe) take her turn as guest-host of the live SNL type sketch comedy show in Los Angeles, ACME Saturday Night, LeBlanc decided he would like to give it a whirl!  His colleagues and pals already knew this seemed like a perfect fit for his talents.  And so this Saturday night, August 28th, Christian (in front of a live audience, and also streaming live to audiences on the web) will tackle a new frontier in his career, as part of his birthday celebration.

In this funny, candid, and revealing interview, Christian details: the process of putting together the ACME show, his hilarious hosting stint at the recent Creative Arts Daytime Emmy Awards ceremonies, and the importance of trying new outlets for yourself at any age.  But that’s not all!  For Y&R fans, we get a preview of what’s next for Michael Baldwin, discussing Michael and Phyllis’ on-screen bff friendship, the ending of the Lauren/Sarah Smythe doppelganger storyline, and more.  And, when As the World Turns signs off the airwaves in a few weeks, who else but LeBlanc can put into words how much the show has meant, because it is the place where we first saw his remarkable talents.

So, let’s send birthday wishes his way, eat some cake, and get ready to watch Christian this Saturday night!  To get tickets if you are in the Southern California area, or to watch the show online, visit ACME’s website by clicking here!

MICHAEL:

First off, Happy Birthday Christian!  So for the occasion, you decided to top this week off with trying your hand at sketch-comedy?

CHRISTIAN:

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I always do some new adventure for my birthday, be it an external or internal one, but this is also something I have always wanted to do.  People for years have been telling me to do comedy, comedy, comedy, and stand-up!  I would say, “No.  That is the hardest thing in the world.  You have to write your own material and work it out.”  It’s something I would love to try, but it’s one of those things you put off forever.  So, finally like my French and piano playing (I started speaking French at my last birthday, and then I started the piano playing) this is something different I have always wanted to attempt or learn.

MICHAEL:

The good thing about this is… it’s sketch comedy.  I would die if I ever had to do a stand-up comedy routine!

CHRISTIAN:

I had friends from New Orleans when I first moved to New York that would do stand-up, and it was my job to clap and laugh, and to drown the drunks out. (Laughs)  To see Nadia Bjorlin get up and do ACME Saturday Night the other week, I did not know what it was supposed to be like.  Both Eden Riegel (Heather, Y&R) and Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe Y&R) had told me that show is very funny, since they both hosted it before.  I just meant to laugh and clap because that is what a friend does, but it was great.

MICHAEL:

Did your cast mates, Eden or Elizabeth, give you any tips in preparation for Saturday night?

CHRISTIAN:

They were telling me to do this show before I even showed up to watch Nadia’s!  Elizabeth was going, “Oh, you would be perfect!”  And I would go, “Elizabeth, weren’t you nervous?”  And she said, “Not till the day of… before that I was fine.”  I was like, “Oh, shut up…bitch!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

You will be great!  But what did the ACME troupe pitch you for the sketches?

CHRISTIAN:

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I cannot tell you, because I want you to be surprised.  As I got my scenes pitched to me earlier this week, it was an amazing process to watch.  They come up to you one-on-one and pitch the scenes to you they wrote.  The writing part of sketch comedy is what amazes me.

MICHAEL:

But recently, you did some comedy shtick and wrote it, too, when you hosted the 37th Annual Creative Arts Emmys, correct?

CHRISTIAN:

Yes.  For the Creative Arts Emmys in June, I did write that bit in it in two days.  I got a lot of response from it, but I knew in my heart that I needed more time.  It was really fun and it was terrifying.  I mean, first I walked out in my underwear, and you think after that there is nothing! (Laughs) And, I read a letter of apology to our wardrobe department.  There were 54 categories to get through, and I would only have one or two minute increments in between.  So I made this up; that I had a fight with wardrobe and that I had to read this letter of apology, and then later on, I did a slideshow.  I made slides of actors before and after make-up and hair.  And in presenting this I said with a straight face, “I am going to show you just how much power the Creative Arts Emmys have on the day to day lives of performers.”  Then we started showing the slides, and I said, “Here is Nadia Bjorlin before…” So I had Jeanne Cooper come in to Y&R with no make-up and hair not made up, and that was the shot.  And after that, there was a beautiful shot of Nadia Bjorlin.  Then I go, “This is James Scott (EJ, DAYS) before.”  James Scott is very shy and does not like to be in hair and make-up.  And so, it’s a picture of Patti Denney and Kathy Jones from Y&R’s make-up department dragging Jeanne Cooper on the floor.  It had her kicking and screaming into make-up and hair.  So then I go, “Look what happens afterwards!”  Then, it was a beautiful picture of James Scott.  Then I go, “Here’s me. Christian before…” which is a nice head shot of me. And, “This is Christian after”, and it’s Brandon Beemer (Owen, B&B) without clothes.  The last one is, “Here’s Jeanne Cooper before make-up.” And, it’s a skeleton, and then the after picture was Jeanne Cooper.  Jeanne pulled in a favor. God bless her.  That is the closest I ever got to stand-up.  Some of it sounded like it hit, some of it I was not so sure. We did this sober-ish. (Laughs)  And more people have come to me the months since then, and told me it added some “pop”.  It was only five minutes in the whole three hours of the presentation of the Emmys. 

MICHAEL:

So let’s go back to the ACME pitch meeting.  I am intrigued by this.  (Laughs)  So you have the right to refuse the pitches, and go, “yes or no”?

CHRISTIAN:

They all come pitch you.  They all take their turn, and they are all very excited if their sketch gets picked.  This is their big chance.  You have a stack of 15 skits, and you go up on stage and you act them all out, and they direct it a little.  They give some feedback and I listen.  Then, they bring out props, etc, and we do it full force.  Then you go to the back of the theatre with the director and the producer, and they speak frankly. “What do you think?”  I know what I am comfortable with; I mean there was a proctology exam that did not make the cut.  But funny.  So I relied on them, and I picked the ones that I was not that comfortable with.  Doing the opening, that part of it is comfortable for me.  And so you pick four scenes, and they round the show out with some of their own sketches, because you need to change and get ready for the next sketch.  So, my appearances are spaced out.

MICHAEL:

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Did they do research on your career, and who you play on Y&R, your Emmys, etc. to perhaps integrate bits of that into the show?

CHRISTIAN:

They do their research.  They ask you ten questions.  One of them is, “What would you like to avoid?”  In which I answered, “I would like to avoid being not funny!”

MICHAEL:

So it’s always a work in progress?

CHRISTIAN:

I don’t get scripts again till mid-week, and I will tape a video short on Thursday. Nadia’s video was hysterical, with the pepper spray going, “Are you here to rape me?”  So I don’t know till Saturday, when we rehearse all day and go do the show.   I know with the four sketches I picked, they will have re-written them and done the fixes we talked about.  It’s a work in progress the whole time.

MICHAEL:

Are you a fan of Saturday Night Live? Over the years, have you watched it regularly?

CHRISTIAN:

Yes, I am a big fan of sketch comedy.  I love Kids in the Hall and I love SNL.  But even watching SNL from beginning to end, it’s bad.  But that is comedy.

MICHAEL:

Will your cast mates be in attendance this Saturday?

CHRISTIAN:

Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, Y&R) will be there, and James Scott, Nadia and Brandon, too.  I am going to have a ball.

MICHAEL:

Ok, what day was your birthday, and how old are you?  If I recall, for fifty you took your clothes off in a sexy photo shoot!

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CHRISTIAN:

My birthday was Wednesday.  I am fifty-two this year.  For fifty, I did the nude shots, which play, just so you know, in to my opening monologues.  I continually set goals and things. They are things I have saved up that I always wanted to do.  One of them, as I mentioned earlier was piano class and the other was singing.  I also kind of started the French lessons last year.  My French tutor is from Paris, and you do these batches of interviews for the Monte Carlo Television Festival, and in one of the articles, it says, “Christian LeBlanc speaks French well!”  So I am printing that and framing it and putting it in my dressing room. (Laughs)  It’s one of my best birthday gifts ever.  This year, I want to do lots of small trips.  One of the things I want to go do is to touch one of the largest living things in the world, which is the Sequoia.  Last year I went all over England, and I was with all these great British people.  I said, “If I want to go to a castle, you just shut up and go!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

So what can we tell Y&R fans; of why they should come down to the theatre on Saturday?  Will there be a take-off of The Young and the Restless opening, perhaps?

CHRISTIAN:

No, I don’t think so.  But you never know with this group.  I would say for fans; it’s the most fun they can have with their clothes on!  Come see it, because it’s just like a train-wreck… you won’t be able to take your eyes away!

MICHAEL:

It is really important now for daytime actors to expand their reach, especially with the difficult times the industry has fallen into.

CHRISTIAN:

The soap business is hard right now.  It’s hard to do what I want to do anyway, which is I want to make gold every time I walk out there and say a line.

MICHAEL:

Coming up on Y&R, will we see more of Michael involved with the Lauren/Jill feud, or perhaps, something else?

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CHRISTIAN:

You will see legal Michael quite soon, I believe, and you will see fireworks!  I have not filmed them yet or seen the scripts yet, but I am seeing them coming my way.  It should be very interesting.

MICHAEL:

I have to tell you, I thought your scenes at the culmination of the Lauren/Sarah Doppelganger storyline, where Tracey E. Bregman played both parts was sensational.  The mirror scenes alone were great drama!

CHRISTIAN:

My ego was thinking when I was sitting there with Tracey Bregman going, “Oh, I would have loved triplets or quadruplets!”  Tracey is like “Oh, God!”  We did the big ending that was a take off on the motion picture, The Lady from Shanghai, and that was a 5AM shoot.  I was never more proud of everyone!

MICHAEL:

Christian, you have told me in previous interviews, it is always something you look for in scripts, and in the performance, to take something and make them real Michael moments, no matter what is given to you.

CHRISTIAN:

When you are patient it will come, and like anyone, I have a big enough ego.  It is a hard thing to do, and you can do all this wonderful work, but it’s also so technical.  The mirror stuff was brilliant and yet hard.  I had a ball, but you had to work through all the technicalities, and I imagine it’s like working with CGI.  You really have to work as an actor.  But from all that, I had some of the most difficult and wonderful scenes with Tracey, and I got to have the arguments with Tracey that Lauren and Michael can’t have, but Sarah Smythe and Michael had.  First, my wife telling me she doesn’t love me anymore. Then, getting a phone call where my wife told me she slept with someone else.  And then, getting a phone call from my wife sounding like she did in the old days, and how that kills you in an argument when you are breaking up.  As an actor, I did not have to look at Tracey as Sarah.  I just had to look at her as Lauren.  I did not have to buy any weird scheme.  All I had to play was a simple theme between a man and his wife, who he adores, and he is now broken-hearted, and protecting his son.  So when you don’t want to play the happy couple, and you want to sink your teeth into something, this is the stuff to do that with.

MICHAEL:

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What would happen if they SORAS’d Michael and Lauren’s son Fenmore, and he was all of a sudden a 13-year-old?

CHRISTIAN:

They could and would.  I think Fenmore now is at a great age, and the actor, Robbie Tucker (Fenmore), is so wonderful. We have a ball.

MICHAEL:

Would you want Fenmore to be a problem child?

CHRISTIAN:

I want Fenmore to be different.  I want him to be a smart-ass because I play him that way.  He would be Michael back to me, you know how children sometimes are, like little Michael and big Michael… really smart and verbal, which he is.  And, he is very capable of playing that.  I make him a hellion when he is not even there or on-screen.  I think for Michael, it’s much more interesting to have a child that is wearing you out!

MICHAEL:

Michelle Stafford and you are great friends off-screen, and on Y&R, Michael and Phyllis are the best of friends through thick and thin.  Did the through line of that great on-screen relationship develop because of your real life bond?  Recent scenes where Michael was there for Phyllis, as he watched the disintegration of her marriage to Nick were electric. Why do you think the Michael/Phyllis scenes work so well?

CHRISTIAN:

It is because I think Michelle is a phenomenal actress, if not one of the best actresses on television, and she makes me better.  So it’s the excitement of all your senses coming alive when you are being challenged.

MICHAEL:

She draws you in as an actress.

CHRISTIAN:

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Our styles mesh, like Tracey and mine mesh.  I am so lucky that I also have people in my on-screen family such as Greg Rikaart (Kevin, Y&R), that whenever we have scenes together they are effortless.  But with Michelle in particular, because it’s something you don’t see, that is why people are drawn to it.  You know Michael and Phyllis were lovers once!  You have this great relationship between two ex-lovers, and they are a man and woman.  I don’t think you usually see that dynamic as much on other soaps. Then there is that they both have this evil background.  So, there is this real hint of mischief about it, and a hint of trouble-a-brewing always… either with Michael or her.  They understand that.  Not only do you have two kinds of shady people with their past, you have two ex-lovers, and so they know each other. The biggest compliment I have received in scenes with Michelle is that you can see they (Michael and Phyllis) have been friends a long time, and they have that comfort with each other and they act that way.

MICHAEL:

With Lauralee Bell’s recent return visit to Y&R as Christine, will they continue to whitewash his attempted rape and his attacks and harassment on Christine years ago?  In your mind, is this swept under the carpet?

CHRISTIAN:

No.  I showed it in the scenes I had, and there is a great one coming up.  It’s short, but that is the joy of it.  You can do something like that in a scene with just a look.  It’s not forgotten, and I don’t forget it.  Anytime Michael is with Christine it is electric, because this is part of his past, and you don’t see one another that often. There is always that with Christine.  You cannot let something that juicy go.  Thank God, the writers gave us a sweet little hard scene to play.  In a few minutes you had to play years of history.  You don’t need a three act opera, and that is the goal of a good actor.

MICHAEL:

We are three weeks away now from the ending of As the World Turns, the show that got you your first big break and start in daytime.  Can you comment on ATWT going off the air?  What are your thoughts on it?  It must hold an incredibly special place in your heart.

CHRISTIAN:

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It’s just sad.  All things come to an end.  An actor’s life is an actor’s life.  We are gypsies and we move around.  We have gotten some great people on our show from there and now we are bringing on Maura West (Carly, ATWT, soon-to-be Diane, Y&R) and I am so excited for us.  She is a heavy hitter.  But, Don Hastings (Bob, ATWT) and Kathryn Hays (Kim, ATWT) they are amazing people.  I would not be here if it wasn’t for the people who taught me how to act on that show.  I did not even have acting classes before I started on As the World Turns, and they believed in me.  The legends were there.  Betty Rea was the casting director extraordinaire, and Mary Ellis-Bunim was the producer, who now does Real World. Julianne Moore was with me, Marisa Tomei, Meg Ryan, Margaret Colin, Justin Deas, and I know all these guys.  It taught me to speak a language that has gotten me through and propelled me.  If I am a good actor at all, it’s because of these people, and them giving me a chance.  I mean, I was raw.  It took a Betty Rea, who auditioned me to get my break there, and she would yell at me like a son, and I would answer!

MICHAEL:

Some fans have a hard time with Y&R now, with the influx of many younger and new characters to the canvas, or recasts, while not concentrating on the core signature characters of their soap.  One thought you hear throughout the industry recently, is that in order for daytime soaps to stay on the air, they have to trim the fat of their cast and get down to brass tacks, or the bare bones.  What are your thoughts on core characters vs. adding newbies, with the state of the genre right now?

CHRISTIAN:

Everything can be done right.  You want great writing, so pay your writers. You want actors who can really act.  If you do all those things, and you want to bring more people and new people in, it’s all fine.  As an actor, you want to work all the time because we are all whores.  My thing is always jokingly, Christian LeBlanc’s, The Young and the Restless. (Laughs) That is forever my pitch.  If I have an Emmy, it’s because I had great actors around me.  I so know that.  I think rather than look at it from numbers perspective, if it can be written well, and the actors can step-up, then you have no problems.  But you have to start with the basics.

MICHAEL:

When you do courtroom scenes, and have so much legalese to perform, do you ever just break out laughing from the difficulty and the wordiness of it all?  

CHRISTIAN:

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Those are my best moments.  I am the only one who loves court.  I will swear to you now, I am the only one off set that lights up when there is a five page monologue.  I have to tell you it was my first months on the show, and they gave me my first case, and it was about a black student who was suing the school system.  I gave a speech, and I am telling you they had 12 on the jury and those extra’s cried, and that is all I cared about.  That was like doing theatre.  When you are in the court you are given that little extra allowance to be dramatic, because it is a performance, of sorts. They give you smart and wonderful, beautiful words.  They give us freedom to correct things from our character’s past that aren’t relevant, that we know from our time on the show.  It gives me, in the courtroom, an opportunity to show a darker side of Michael, too.  When he is a shark in the courtroom and goes for the jugular, those are great moments.  We laugh and joke off-set, but when I am in the court, I take it very seriously and make it work.

MICHAEL:

Since we began this interview about being comedic, who do you think is funny?

CHRISTIAN:

I think I am a big one for watching the Roasts.  I have not seen the Comedy Central David Hasselhoff Roast yet, but I have it on tape.  I think Alec Baldwin is hysterical and he is a great actor.  I think of him on 30 Rock and him hosting Saturday Night Live and doing “Schweaty Balls”, is one of the funniest and most hysterical things.  I like Steve Martin, back in the day when he was hosting SNL all the time.  Gilda Radner was brilliant and genius.  Those people wrote their material and also were great actors.  I think that is what makes good comedy… you really have to get commitment.  And, at the ACME Theatre Company they do that, too. You think it’s scattered chaos, but it’s not.  It’s probably why it’s difficult.  It’s all in the timing and the precision of surgery.  Timing is not something that can always be taught to you, it has to be something very innate.

MICHAEL:

Are you the true funny man on the set of Y&R that everyone says you are, or is there someone else?

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CHRISTIAN:

I think Joshua Morrow (Nick, Y&R) is probably the only person who can make me dissolve into laughter.  He is funny, and he is that dry, intelligent type of funny.  You would never know it, but he is!

MICHAEL:

Ok, Christian.  I will be there on Saturday night to clap loud and drown out the drunks for you, no matter what happens.  But I am sure you will be fantastic and have us all in stitches!

CHRISTIAN:

When you bring the flowers for me, don’t throw them overhand… throw them underhand.  Remember, you’re not trying to kill someone! (Laughs)

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Mitch
Mitch

Great interview, very informative!

Doe
Doe

Michael, I am so excited that you have his interview. Christian happens to be my favorite actor. His acting is always flawless and gets to me everytime he does something extraordinary, which is always! I wish I could see his performance Saturday, but I don’t live in the south. Good luck to you, Christian. I know you will knock them dead…. Great interview, Michael….

Candice Ryan
Candice Ryan

I love Christian and Tracey together. They were incredible during the Sarah/Lauren story and both deserve Emmy’s this year. Congratulations Christina on another birthday and birthday challenge!

And here’s to a Christian/Tracey Young and the Restless!!!!

Judy L-E (Facebook)
Judy L-E (Facebook)

Great interview, Christian….good luck Sat. night

Rob
Rob

God I hope I look as good at 52!!

scarlett christensen
scarlett christensen

Does anyone know if michelle stafford and christian leblanc are an item since
there together all the time.

Dee
Dee

I am a little late in making a comment..but I do Love Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin) he is the only reason i even watch Y and R..his acting is superb and his looks are awesome..and the man has a fabulous body..I would so love to see him more on Y and R without the suit on and making some hot love with Lauren..but we get nothing as CLB fans and TEB fans..its disgusting..and I think the show has deteriorated to nonesense and so plot driven it makes no sense most of the time..Thanks for the article Michael..hope you have many more of the Man..Christian LeBlanc..

General Hospital

Dominic Zamprogna Speaks Out On His Decision To Leave GH, His Final Scenes With Emme Rylan & How Dante Exited The Canvas

A few weeks ago, General Hospital fans watched as one of the series beloved stars, Dominic Zamprogna (Dante) exited the show in scenes opposite his longtime on-screen love interest, Emme Rylan (Lulu).  For nine years, Zamprogna brought authenticity, emotion, and heart to the son of Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and Olivia Falconeri (Lisa LoCicero) to life.  While Dante’s journey started out with a bang, literally (thanks, Sonny!), over the years it appeared he was taking a backseat in meatier storylines.  All the while, Dante and Lulu remained one of the more popular duos with the viewers.

After much reflection, Zamprogna decided it was time for him to walk away from a place that became his second home.  His desire now shifted to play different characters in different projects, but it was not without taking many things into account with his life-changing decision.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Dominic to glean more insight into: if there was anything GH could have done to make him sign on the dotted line again, what went down to make those final scenes seem so rushed, how it was to say goodbye to his co-workers in front of the camera and behind the scenes, if he would consider a return at some point, and how would he feel if GH now planned on recasting Dante, and much more.

For us; we recall meeting Dominic for the first times just six months into his time at General Hospital for our first interview together.  We were instantly struck by his sincerity, humor, and his eagerness to learn from some of the best in the business.  Now exiting as a “soap vet“, per se, it is a full-circle moment that we had the time to conclude his GH journey with this conversation.  Here’s what Dom had to say about it all.

What were the factors that contributed to your decision to exit GH?  Was there a pivotal moment where you were feeling, and recognizing, that you were underutilized that you felt you needed to make a change? 

DOMINIC:  When you named me the “Most Underutilized Actor of 2017!” (Laughs) Well, my plan was never to stay forever.  But half-way through my second contract,  Emme Rylan (Lulu) and I were approached by our producer on set, who said words to the effect of: you guys have been on the sideline, time to get you into the game.  That led to the Dante cheating storyline, which gave us story for about a year … which was great!  But as that ended, so did any subsequent storylines, it seemed.  In the year that followed, I started entertaining thoughts of leaving.  By the next year, I started talking about it with my wife, Linda, who had started to notice that maybe I wasn’t happy anymore, and I wasn’t.  That’s not a good feeling, especially if you’re bringing that energy home with you.  Then, I made the mistake of going on social media, which is a terrible place to go sometimes.  But fans were saying the same sort of things I was feeling.  Was it all due to story or lack-thereof?  No.  I was starting to crave playing other roles, and that’s hard to do when you’re under contract.

Were discussions even had with Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) and the powers-that-be about your feelings of dissatisfaction over not being utilized more in storylines?

DOMINIC:  The discussions happened late.  Not until the negotiation process, actually.  I’m no squeaky wheel I guess, but I also don’t feel it’s in my job description to be one.  I did put out a few ideas here and there, but they didn’t happen.  I know other actors have tried the same and it didn’t lead to anything for them, either.  I was a creation of Bob Guza (former head writer, GH), and maybe I was spoiled by the amount of great writing I received while he was there.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

There had to be some sadness in walking away from GH.

DOMINIC:  Oh yeah… it was sad.  I built that character, and now here I was walking away from it, and essentially my second family.  That’s been the hardest part.  Lifelong friendships were made, and memories.  However, it’s been over a month and a half since I’ve been at GH and I feel happy.  I’ve been up in Canada shooting Tin Star, which has been a great experience.  I’ve stayed in touch with everybody and I miss everybody, in fact, I just spoke to Mo (Maurice Benard) yesterday, and I’m in class with Emme (she won’t leave me alone).  But, I feel like I made the right choice for me at this moment.

To clarify; were you actually trying to work out a deal to stay put, but both sides just could not hammer things out to a satisfactory conclusion?

DOMINIC:  We did try to work out a deal.  After more talks and conversations, I felt maybe we were going to get things done.  I was being told things would change and maybe shift things in the direction we wanted to go.  But at the end of the day, it’s gotta be in writing.  I feel like I’d been told similar things in the past which hadn’t come to fruition.  I was also reminded that it was me who needed to sign my name on that dotted line and live with that decision, and I chose not to do so.

If someone would have said to you: “We have an “A” story for you, and you are going to be driving it,” would you have been more apt to stay?   

DOMINIC:  There was talk about us sitting down and talking about storylines, but that didn’t end up happening, not sure why.  And even if it did, I don’t know that it would’ve changed my mind about leaving, anyway.   But just to be clear: I have no anger towards anybody.  It’s all a business at the end of the day.  Both sides did what they felt was right.  For me, I just felt this chapter had come to an end.

Photo: ABC

When, and how did you tell on-screen scene partner, Emme Rylan that you were leaving?  Was she happy for you and your decision?

DOMINIC:  Emme knew really early on.  Once January rolled around I was like: “I have been thinking for the last six to nine months that I am going to go.”   I wanted her to know, because we have been a couple for five years on the show.  Emme was very happy for me.  I went, “Wait a minute!  Don’t be this happy.  I’m leaving.” (Laughing)  

What happened when you told your on-screen mom, Lisa LoCicero ?

DOMINIC:  She was sad, but she is also said, “You’re in your prime, go see what’s out there!”   I wouldn’t have done this move if I did not get support at home.  My wife is the rock and the one that makes this household go.  Some things outside the show were starting to happen; I had a nice screen-test for a pilot, and then I booked these four episodes of Tin Star.  When you have choices in life; you have power and control over your future.  I think Emme and Lisa as actors realized that.  That’s what made them happy for me … for the future.  The last nine years were exciting.  However, when you can have a little bit more say in what you are doing on a day to day basis, that is empowering.  So, in saying, “no” to something, and saying, “Thank you, but that’s not what I am looking for right now,” that can feel good.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

It was a shame that through all the regimes that they rarely wrote any scenes between Dante and his father, Sonny.  What was Maurice Benard’s reaction when you told him you were leaving?

DOMINIC:  It has been pretty publicized that he and I were dissatisfied at the lack of  storyline, or scenes together.  Maurice asked the powers-that-be, “Why aren’t we working together more?”  We never had a clear answer as to why.  He didn’t know from one day to the next what was happening with my contract talks.  Mo saw me smiling one day and asked, “So does that smile mean you’re staying?”  And I said, “No, that smile is because I’m leaving.” (Laughs)  I said that more to mess with him, and make him sad.  He said, “As long as you are good financially, then I am all for anybody getting out of here and seeing what else is out there.” Really, Mo talks people into leaving so he can get more screen-time. (Laughs)

Let’s talk about the final airshow, and the story that came out of left field to facilitate your exit.  Was that written quickly to accommodate a shooting schedule or contract completion?  It felt rushed to the viewing audience.

DOMINIC:  Left field is right!  I still had a week and a half left of work when they found out I wasn’t going to re-sign, and within twelve hours I had six exit scenes written.  So, it wasn’t done to facilitate anything but a set (Lante’s house), I think.  My final tape date was May 18th, and Emme and I had scenes on the Wednesday or Thursday before that.  I guess they wanted my last scenes that aired to be with Emme, and that might have been the only scheduling day that worked for the set and the actors, and maybe that’s also why it felt so rushed.  All I could assume is that they didn’t think I was really going to leave so they didn’t plan for it, or they chose to protect themselves in this way, by not making a big deal about it.  I had another week of scenes in the PCPD with Chase (Josh Swickard) and Michael (Chad Duell) that was shot afterward.  But they had nothing to do with Dante’s “secret mission!”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I thought, “Wait!  Is that it?  Is this Dominic’s final show?  Dante doesn’t say goodbye to his mother… his father … or his son, Rocco?

DOMINIC:  Yeah, that was tough for me.  After 9 years you think you’re going to get a little bit better of a send off.   You also, hope they’re going to honor the character.  Dante wouldn’t leave to go to the 7-eleven without saying goodbye to his mother and kids.   Maurice and I talked about that.  He said, “I guess, they don’t want people to feel really sad.  You and me doing some goodbye scenes, people are going to be devastated.”   I agree with that.  However, I also think it’s a soap and that’s what fans want … good, ole drama.  I would have loved to have had scenes with Sonny, Olivia, and Dante’s kids, but when you make a decision like this, how you leave on-air is not up to you.  Both parties are going to handle it how it’s best for them.   I was very grateful they gave Emme and I something to seek our teeth into. 

They were very sad scenes.  You are one of those actors that can take the material and connect with it while delivering it in a very subtle and heartfelt way.  How was Emme after your final scenes?

DOMINIC:  She was kind of crying the whole time, going “Damn you! Damn you.”   I was having fun with it, because I love making Emme cry.  It’s not a very difficult thing to do.  (Laughs).  We were both pretty teary-eyed, actually.  Then, when we finished the scenes and I looked over and I saw how upset the crew was, that’s what really got me.  Barbara, one of the camera operators actually jokingly apologized; suggesting that if my last shot was blurry it was my fault!  As an actor, when you make the crew feel something it kind of gives you some extra good feels. That was always the best feeling, talking to Craig (our stage manager), or Donna (head of makeup department) after a scene to get the honest truth on how you did.  I’ll miss them.

Courtesy/ABC

Viewers, watching Dante have this flashback about the guy who was responsible for Lulu going overboard the Haunted Star a few years ago, probably needed a moment to connect the dots.  Some viewers were going, “What?  Dante is going after the guy that tried to drown Lulu from two years ago?”

DOMINIC:  When I read that in the script even I went, “What?” Who’s that?”  I had no idea, either. (Laughs)

Then there was this:  Dante was so hard on Lulu for her pursuing her dream as a journalist and how it inadvertently got Nathan killed.  Then all of a sudden in your final scenes, Dante has a line to Lulu in which he says something to the effect of: I understand now – you got to do, what you got to do.  In story, prior to these scenes it was leaning more towards Dante and Lulu were going to break-up over what had recently transpired.

DOMINIC:  Which, who knows?  If Dante had stayed in Port Charles it could have been the direction they were going in.  It certainly looked like they were building toward conflict, conflict, conflict, but with me leaving it was much sweeter to leave on the note that we left on, instead of Dante leaving, because he can’t deal with being around Lulu. This all leads me to believe that they didn’t want to do anything too permanent to give them time to make the proper decisions.

Courtesy/ABC

What was the last day of shooting like for you?  Was it hard to get through?

DOMINIC:  It felt like a regular day, and my final scenes were up towards the end of the tape day. They had a cake afterwards.  Frank briefly spoke and introduced Maurice; who said a bunch of sweet words.  That meant a lot to me.  I said “goodbye” to everybody and took some photos, and that was it.  I already had my room packed up.  Once you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go.  Afterwards, I went out with Ryan Paevey (Ex-Nathan) and Jeffrey Vincent Parise (Ex-Carlos) for some beers and wings at the bar down the street.  It wasn’t until everybody came back after a two-week break that it felt real, because then I was receiving text messages from people saying, “We’re back.  Why the hell aren’t you here?”

The door has been left open for Dante to return.  Would you ever come back?

DOMINIC:  Of course, at some point.  But it might not be my choice, they might recast.  They told me they won’t, but who knows what’ll be done.  Do I think you can just recast a role?  No, I think it’s always a tough sell, but they’ve done it with bigger names/characters than mine.  I would be a little surprised, only because there hasn’t been much story for Dante in the last three years.  For me, as of now, I’ve moved on, and I’m very happy with my decision and my life.  It’s sad in other respects, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve read things that people have said on Twitter, and I want everyone to know I’ve seen it all and it means a lot to me.  People have been beautiful to me.  I’m truly overwhelmed by the love.  I thought there would be more of, “Who cares?” when fans found out I left.   I must have done something right during the years I was at GH.

Did you think when you made the decision to leave they would kill-off Dante? 

DOMINIC:  No, not at all.  I don’t think killing off Dante would be a good idea, especially after they killed Nathan, and also because of the climate we live in with police involved shootings and violence, in general.  In a perfect world as an actor, you crave the opportunity to have one last moment with the other characters that have been important to your character over the years.  That’s all I would have wanted for myself, and Dante.  I’ll take what I got though.  It was extremely meaningful because of what Emme and I had and built.  I feel we got to the heart and soul of those two characters in a pretty short amount of time in our scenes.

Courtesy/ABC

Speaking of Nathan, I think thus far those funeral scenes, which you were wonderful in, and the story arc revolving around his death, are GH’s best bet for an Emmy in the Drama Series category next year. 

DOMINIC:  I agree.  It was so well-done.  We’d all would like to go out like that!  Tragic, but it made for great TV and great soap.  It was phenomenally well-acted across the board.  Lots of Emmy reel stuff for Michelle Stafford (Nina) and Kirsten Storms (Maxie), and Kathleen Gati (Liesl), and hopefully for our directors and crew, also.  They did an amazing job bringing that to life.

This now leaves Josh Swickard as the lone cop now by default on GH.   he PCPD is notorious for being the worst cop shop in the history of soaps! (Laughs) They can’t ever solve a crime.

DOMINIC: (Laughs) I know!  What is Josh is going to do?   Maybe between Chase and Jordan (Vienssa Antoine) they will solve crimes.  Maybe, they’ll bring on a new cop.  Josh is a great guy and I enjoyed working with him.  At the beginning, we had that contentious relationship between the two guys.  That would’ve been fun if it lasted longer, where they had this continual real dislike for one another.  Who knows?  With Dante gone, maybe they will start solving some crimes! (Laughs) Maybe now the PCPD will be the greatest police unit in the USA.

Courtesy/ABC

Over your nine years at GH, would you still consider that your best storyline was coming on to the show and then having Sonny shoot Dante, only for it to turn out that he just shot his own son?

DOMINIC:  Yes, I think you have to.  That was my intro.  They had this story planned eight months before they even cast the role.  To get to that moment, was a classic soap cliffhanger.  I grew up watching soap operas with my grandparents, and if they had been alive for that scene they would have lost it, because it was something that ‘old school’ soap fans would really dig.  For me, doing that story felt so special.  ABC also pumped it with the promotion, and the promos, and the TV spots, and amped it up.  I didn’t feel it disappointed.  It was actually the audition scene that I had to perform to get the part!  Then six months later you get to say these lines that got you the part, and you hope you don’t whiff on the softball.

While putting together and producing the GH 55th anniversary tribute package for this year’s Daytime Emmys, I included that moment between Sonny and Dante.  I remember watching the complete scene before editing it and the dialog was so good.  It still holds up to this day.

DOMINIC:  My manager was at the Emmys that night, and said what a great moment that was.  I meant to thank you for that, because I really appreciated it being in there.

Courtesy/ABC

Are there any other scenes that come to mind that you are most proud of?

DOMINIC:  I also really loved the scenes with Max Gail (Mike). He is a special guy.  There was so much in our scenes; where Dante finds him with Avery in the stables.  Those moments are going to stick with me for a long time.

On June 28th, the airdate of your last episode, you posted a tweet to the fans that read: “The love you guys have given me over the years and continue to give is overwhelming.  It is I that must thank YOU!”  I thought that was extremely touching and very appreciated by the fans.

DOMINIC:  I was thinking, “Man, I have to thank you, because I would not legitimately be here if you hadn’t liked this guy, Dante.”  It was bringing tears to my eyes reading what people were saying, and seeing how much love I was receiving.

Tell me about your role in the British-Canadian production of Tin Star?

DOMINIC:  It’s a recurring role,  I’ve been working on it since March.  It’s something very different from what I’ve been doing the last 9 years.  Can’t give much away, but I play a hired gun type of guy.  There are some great scenes and moments, and I was lucky enough to work with Christina Hendricks, John Lynch, and the legend, Tim Roth.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you feel now that you have had some time away now from GH, and have been playing another role, that the thought of playing Dante for you at this point is like: “Been there. Done that?”

DOMINIC:  I would never say Dante is done forever.  Right now for me, he is.  They left it open, hopefully they left it open for me, but every actor hopes that.  We want our cake and to eat it too!  I want to leave right now, but I want you to want me to come back some day.  No one wants their role to be recast.  But it’s an important character, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  Who knows what the future holds.  I left on good terms.  Just so everyone knows; I didn’t spring something on GH on the last day of my contract.  It’s important that I let people know that I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “See ya”.  This also wasn’t about money.  Sure, we want to be paid what we believe we’re worth.  But this in no way was about me asking for the moon, or I was going to leave.  It was a very, very difficult decision.

So, what do you think about how GH wrapped up Dante’s story for Dominic’s exit? Would you like him to return to GH sooner than later?  Do you think the role of Dante was problematic to write for?  What were your favorite scenes of Dom’s during his time at GH? Let us know via the comment section below.

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Jonathan Jackson Talks Avery’s Love Quandary, Saying Goodbye To ‘Nashville’ & If He Would Return To General Hospital

With just three weeks before the series finale of CMT’s Nashville, Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) finds himself in a major conundrum.  The woman he has loved and had a child with, Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panetierre) has returned home after escaping a cult compound, just as Avery has opened himself up to the start of a new relationship with Alannah (Rainee Blake).  After not hearing from Juliette, added to the many times he felt she abandoned him and their child, will a betrayed and hurt Avery want to find a way to patch up their relationship … or try to keep Alannah by his side?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with five-time Daytime Emmy winner, Jonathan Jackson to get the lowdown on what transpired over the last few episodes and how it may end for Avery, as we inch closer and closer to having to say farewell to the Music City drama.

Since Nashville wrapped its sixth and final season a few months back, General Hospital fans have been wondering and hoping, if now is the time that Jackson would return to his role as the beloved Lucky Spencer, the son of Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis). Jackson originated the role in 1993 and stayed with the series till 1999.  He next returned in 2009 for a few years, then left again, and was cast on Nashville.  Jonathan made a special return in 2015 to appear in a storyline that reunited him on-screen with Geary one final time, before the soap icon retired from the show.  In this interview, Jackson addresses a return, some of his favorite moments of all-time on GH, what he learned from Tony and Genie, and more.

Those that follow Jackson are aware that his talent knows no bounds.  He is also focused on his music career, and his band Enation, which has been building on its success, playing recent sold out shows in Europe, while Jackson also had been on the final Nashville tour performing with the cast.  So, buckle up!  The next step in Jackson’s career will be one to watch.  Now, check out our insightful and heartfelt conversation below.

Avery is caught in a compromising position by Juliette, when she walks in while Avery is making out with Alannah, who has just has taken her top off.   What goes on in Avery’s mind at that point?  Is it, “Oh, no! I’m busted!” (Laughs)

JONATHAN:  It’s all sorts of things.  There is the visceral reaction, and then in his mind trying to figure what to do.  It’s sort of awkward, because they are in her house and her photos are everywhere (Laughs).  However clumsily and strange it is, he is trying to move on and get a life together with someone, and yet deep down he still has feeling for Juliette, which is mixed with anger and all of that.  He is having all different confusing conflicting emotions, all at the same time, and for Alannah as well.  It’s kind of a mess!

Courtesy/CMT

By the end of this week’s episode, viewers saw Avery and Juliette start to talk, with Avery letting her know just how he feels about her leaving him, and that he has decided to move out.  All Juliette is asking is that he keeps talking to her.  As Nashville moves toward its conclusion, the big question for the character of Avery will be … who is he going to end up with, if anyone?  I would assume many longtime fans would be rooting for Avery and Juliette, because they have gone through so much together.

JONATHAN:  Yes.  However, I have been receiving messages from fans, and talking to fans on tour, and they are slightly conflicted, too.  There is a lot of love for Avery and Juliette, but there is also frustration around the whole thing, and that they want Avery to move on and be happy. 

Courtesy/CMT

Where is Avery at with his relationship with Alannah?  He was getting close to her, and now she is attempting to put distance between them since Juliette resurfaced.

JONATHAN:  It’s difficult to pinpoint where Avery is at right at this moment.  There is a lot going on, and a lot of it is rooted in the fact that he went to Bolivia to try and bring Juliette home, and when she refused him that was so devastating for him.  The Alannah relationship snuck up on him. In some sense his heart is still attached to Juliette, but his mind is telling him it’s over, and that she is gone.  Avery and Alannah are connected to each other on a certain level.  It surprised both of them.  I think he has genuine feelings for her, but it’s also him pushing himself to move on from Juliette, which is something he has not been able to do.

Without Alannah, the band flounders with Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Avery, and then there is the health situation with Will (Chris Carmack).  Alannah’s presence really put a kink in Gunnar and Avery’s friendship.  She stared out with one guy, and was on her way to being with another.

JONATHAN:  Gunnar and Avery are really good friends and care about each other a lot, and it is certainly an awkward moment in their friendship.   In terms of the band, they lose Will who has been through this health crisis, and then Alannah.  The music components are kind of imploding and they are just trying to hold on to their friendship, and not have that implode along with the band.

Courtesy/CMT

Brad (Jeff Nordling) is making advances towards Alannah, and she originally tells Avery about it.  What does he think of the situation?  Now, she may do whatever Jeff wants her to do to get ahead in the music biz, since Juliette came back into Avery’s life.

JONATHAN:  I think Avery is trying to be supportive of Alannah.  It was a little bit of a blow for her to leave the band, but he generally wants to support her.  Avery has this instinct to be protective, as well.  He kind of has to hold himself back a little bit and not complain too much. He knows Alannah is an independent person, and may not want his help.  With the situation with Brad, Avery is aware of it, but she is walking into that in her own way.  It’s a moment for Avery to sort of step back and trust her that this is how she wants to go about her career.

Did you know Rainee Blake was going to be your potential love interest this season? Did you screen-test with her?

JONATHAN:  We did not screen-test together.  I think relatively earlier on I heard that this might happen, but it is one of those things were you never really know.  Often times, the writers and the producers bide their time and see how things develop as a couple, and how the audience responds to the on-screen chemistry.  You never really know if it’s going to materialize.  I actually did like how Avery and Alannah started to connect on the tour bus several episodes ago. The audience got a tease of a different side of Alannah, and Avery kind of brought that out.  Rainee was great to work with.

Courtesy/CMT

You have gotten the opportunity as Avery to tug on the heartstrings, as a dad raising his little girl, Cadence, all by himself, with a the runaway mother who never shows up.  How was the journey working with Hayden Panetierre?  You two had to battle, bicker, fight, and had to play all these ups and downs together to make the story work over many seasons of Nashville.

JONATHAN:   It was really amazing, and for me that is one of the things I will miss most about working on the show, and that is working with Hayden.  It’s such an interesting thing when you work with people for so many years, and all of the emotional ups and downs that the characters go through.  Often times, we would be doing a lot of intense and emotional scenes, but for whatever reason, we would find a way to have a lot of fun and find the humor when we are doing those.  I have a lot of love and respect for Hayden.  I think she is incredibly talented. We both started off in soap operas (Hayden was Lizzie on Guiding Light) and thus had a certain approach to our work, and our work ethic.  For me, it’s always a highlight in my career when I get to work with somebody that the scene is already great, because of the person you are working with.  We would constantly share ideas back and forth between us.  The thing about working on Nashville was the friendships we developed in the cast, especially going on tour with the cast and to experience all of that with everybody else.

Courtesy/CMT

What happened when you found out that this sixth and final season of Nashville would be its last?  Did you have any idea that this was coming down the pike when you wrapped season 5? 

JONATHAN:  No.  I don’t think anybody knew when we wrapped season 5.  We did not know till right before everybody else that this was going to be the last season.  We were in production maybe halfway through season 6.  I think that it helped having that time to adjust, and it gave us some time for reflection.  It really did help in a sense, because you know other shows they might wrap a month, or two later, and it’s over.  You don’t get to say goodbye, but we really did.  We got to say our goodbyes.

Courtesy/CMT

I can imagine that was heartbreaking.  When you think of the rollercoaster ride you and the cast had been through together which included: the cancellation by ABC, then the show coming back on CMT, only for it to be cancelled again, it’s quite a lot to deal with and not knowing if there is job security.  Do you recall your last day on the set?

JONATHAN:  I do remember it very well.  There were a lot of beautiful moments with people, and having so much love for the crew and so many amazing people that worked on the show.  We wrapped on April 10th and then we flew to the U.K. on the 12th   It was two days later that the tour started.  Even though filming was over, we were on a plane and then on a bus together, which was really good for all of us.  I know it was for me to have another ending.  In some ways, the end of the tour was even more emotional, because that really felt it was the end.

Photo Credit: CMT

Do you think there were more stories to tell on Nashville … or, do you think the series is going off the air when it should, as the stories can tend to get repetitive on any long-running series? Do you think this was the right time for Nashville to say goodbye?

JONATHAN:  I don’t know how other people’s perspectives are about it, but I know from my perspective, I think we told the story that was there to be told for these characters.  That is sort of the bittersweet reality of it.  It’s painful to say goodbye to a lot of people that I had become very close to, but at the same time, there was a sense of peace about it.  It really did feel like the right time.

What can you say tease about how Nashville concludes? The series finale airs on July 26.

JONATHAN:  One of the hardest things about being in a long form series; whether it be in the primetime format, or the daytime format, is often times the lack of resolution that takes place. You are pertually in Act 2 and in all the drama.  So, knowing that the show was over, allowed the writers to approach everything from the perspective of the end, and Act 3.  Certain storylines have resolution, and others are left open-ended.  There is a good overall balance from the writers of what the audience is going to experience with the end of the show.

Courtesy/ABC

I produced the General Hospital 55th anniversary tribute package for this year’s Daytime Emmys.  I remember looking at some of your storylines and touching performances all over again that still hold up to this day.  One in particular was Lucky pulling tough love on Luke (Tony Geary) during his father’s intervention.  Lucky is such a valuable character on the canvas.  Would you consider going back to GH? 

JONATHAN:  My perspective on that is; I don’t really put that off the table.  I really don’t have plans to do that, because after coming off six years on a series, that is a lot.  I am definitely looking for other projects that have an Act 1, 2, and 3, that happen a little sooner than Nashville did.  I always have going back to GH on the table, because it’s like a family for me.  I have always said that that even when I left in the 90’s; that GH would be something I would come back to.  But, I am very committed and excited about what is happening with Enation, and excited about some other projects that are out there on the acting front. I don’t see going back to GH in the near future, but I never write it off.

When you last returned you did come back to be part of Tony Geary’s exit.

JONATHAN: Yes, yes, which I was really happy to be a part of.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Still years later, when you think of all the stories you portrayed as Lucky, is there one, or two that stand out to you among the rest?

JONATHAN:   There are many.  There were a lot of stories, and the writers wrote so much material, and that is a double-edged sword.  It’s great to have, but it was so much that I really couldn’t continue. (Laughs)

Photo Credit: ABC

I remember saying to you years ago, “You cry so well on camera. They are going to keep expecting you to cry, and they will be throwing scripts like that to you every day!”

JONATHAN:  And that is exactly what happened!   But for me, it’s the moments with the co-stars that I will always carry with me.  There are endless ones in my memory with Tony Geary. “The intervention” was certainly one of those moments.  I had those moments as well with Tyler Christopher (Ex-Nikolas, now Stefan, DAYS), and Becky Herbst (Elizabeth).  I remember having these scenes with Maurice Benard (Sonny) when scenes on the soaps were much longer.  And of course, earlier on, with Genie Francis (Laura) as well.  I feel like as an artist, I was really formed by Tony and Genie’s presence and observing them and watching how they worked.  I asked so many questions to them as I really wanted to learn.  They really protected me in so many ways, and yet gave me the freedom to try to find my own way through a whole process as well.  Those are the things that really jump out at me, as well as working through the scenes prior to filming, especially with Tony.  He and I would go pretty deep with what we were trying to figure out; what the scenes were, and what they were about, and how to approach it.  That part of the process was really memorable to me.  The unique thing I think in this industry for me was that I started at 11-years-old and got to come back to the show in my mid-20’s, and got to have that connection with another actor, and explore this father and son relationship.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I don’t think, and I really mean this, that there has been a father/son relationship on television like Luke and Lucky’s.   It was so multi-faceted.   Have you stayed in touch with Tony?

JONATHAN:  We definitely stay in touch.  Again, when I left General Hospital, I did not know if anything like that would happen again in my career where I would form sort of long-lasting friendships with people.  Most of the time you do a film and you get to know some people, and you go your separate ways, and that’s just how it is.  So I was really grateful for Nashville, because I feel like we were able to have those long-lasting relationships. I can’t really put into words my relationship with Tony.  It’s just a lot of love and gratitude, and respect that I have for him.

Courtesy/JJacksonInstagram

Meanwhile, your music career is very exciting of late.  Last month, you played the Royal Albert Hall in London with your band, Enation.  How was that experience?

JONATHAN:  It was amazing.  I went overseas with the Nashville tour and then Enation did a couple of shows, and then we opened for Echo & the Bunnymen.  The last gig on that tour was at Royal Albert Hall.  I have loved Echo & the Bunnymen for such a long time, and so this was wonderful for us.

Will Enation be touring more coming up?  

JONATHAN:  We are looking to go back to Europe later this year, or the spring of next year, and are working out those details.  We are going to be touring in the United States later on this year.

Photo: JJacksonInstagram

Did your wife Lisa (Ex-Hannah, GH) meet up with you on this recent European tour?

JONATHAN: The Nashville tour ended in Ireland, and then my wife and kids came over for the last two shows there. Then, got to go around Ireland for a couple of weeks and drive around, and it was fun.

Did you notice a difference between the European music fans of Nashville as opposed to those in the U.S.?

JONATHAN:  Yes, and no.  One of the things I have noticed playing over there is that the distinction in musical genres isn’t quite as a sharp as it is in the U.S.  Over there, the radio seems to play a lot different kinds of music.  So, it was a pretty seamless transition for a lot of the people that came to the Nashville show.   We see a slight difference in the music fan base, and it mainly has to do with that they may go to a country show one week, and a couple of weeks later go to a rock concert, and not think twice about the genre.  It’s just they are looking for good music.

Courtesy/JJacksonInstagramm

Hard to believe we are turning the page on another great character played by Jonathan Jackson as Nashville heads towards its finale.  What would you like to say to the fans, the #Nashies, who have loved, and have stuck with show every step of the way?

JONATHAN:  Just a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for all the support, especially when the show was cancelled.  CMT saw the enthusiasm and support from the fans here and internationally, and that was a huge part for us to be able to get the last few seasons.  It has really meant a lot to us creatively to write that 3rd act, sort of speak, and have that sense of closure. I also would just say to the fans that have come out to the Nashville concerts as well, that it has meant so much.  We feel like we have had some beautiful moments with everybody, and so I am very grateful for that.

So, what do you think will happen to Avery at the end of Nashville?  Do you want him to end up with Juliette, Alannah, or by himself? Should GH try to lure Jonathan back to the his role as Lucky Spencer? Comment below!

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Y&R’s Peter Bergman Talks On: Jack Finding His True Biological Father, His Co-Stars, And If He Would Like A New Love Interest

On The Young and the Restless turns out Ashley (Eileen Davidson) is not the only child raised as an Abbott; whose father is not John.  As viewers learned back at the end of March, Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) is not the biological son of the Abbott patriarch, either!  This has sent Jack on a pursuit to find out who he truly is, and who he truly belongs to, because being John Abbott’s (Jerry Douglas) son meant everything to him.

Once again, this story has given multi-Daytime Emmy winner, Peter Bergman an opportunity to play the complex layers of one of daytime’s best characters.  Recently, Jack had gone through his mother Dina’s (Marla Adams) old diary, where there was a key page missing out of it.  He then located a photo, which led him to believe that none other than late Phillip Chancellor II (played by the late Donnelly Rhodes) is his real father.  Is Jack a Chancellor?

Hell-bent on exhuming the body for DNA proof, Jack is getting massive pushback from just about everyone on Genoa City.  It is not helping the situation that Dina is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and her recollections of what transpired years ago when she had an affair, may not be accurate.  Now this week, Jack has a plan that may backfire and ends up involving his son, Kyle (Michael Mealor) in the process.  Will these two work together to get the proof of the truth?

Michael Fairman TV chatted with the actor’s actor, Peter Bergman to get his take on: the surprise story twist he never saw coming, if Jack has the purest of intentions, or if he is just chomping at the bit get his hands on Chancellor Industries, if he would like to see Jack have a new love interest, and more.  It’s always a treat to speak with Peter.  Here is what he had to say about Jack’s latest inner-turmoil.

Jack is not John’s Abbott’s son.  He is searching for the answer of who is his biological father.  Now, Jack believes he has found the answer in the photo he found that included Phillip Chancellor II, and then went to Dina to confirm the answer, even knowing his mother is battling Alzheimer’s disease.  Don’t you think he jumped on this notion of Phillip being his dad all too son?

PETER:  Jack has stumbled upon evidence that this is for real with the photo he found.  He went to Dina on what was a very lucid day for her, and she was pretty damn clear.  So, therefore it wasn’t just the ramblings of a lost woman.  Jack is very eager for an answer.  Could it be argued that he jumped on this as a possibility? Yes, and for a number of reasons.  First, he feels somewhat utter-less and needs to be connected to something, but he also knows his family, and the history of this family, and “Oh, my God” could that be a way out of this untethered feeling that he had.  So he is really grabbing on to this pretty quickly.  Second, it is not lost on Jack that part of inheriting all of Phillip’s traits might also bring him part of the Chancellor estate, which would belong to Jack and perhaps he could pick-up at the corporate level where he left off.  So that is exciting, but certainly not central to his thinking.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Everyone thinks from Cane (Daniel Goddard) to Jill (Jess Walton), to Billy (Jason Thompson) , that all Jack truly wants is to stake claim as an heir and to try to take control of Chancellor Industries.  Are they that far off from the truth?

PETER:  How honest is Jack being with himself?  We will find out!  He would want to stake his claim … and maybe a little bit more!

What was your reaction when you learned that Jack would be revealed to be the son of Phillip Chancellor II, when for decades you have been playing so much of what drives your character that he is the son of John Abbott?  Were you like, “What!??” (Laughs)

PETER:  I have been doing this much too long, to go “Why?”  I, quite frankly ask, “Where do you want to go with this?  Where do you want to take me?” The things that I have done in the past that I have fought the most have usually been the things that really led me somewhere.  I tell the story all the time of John Abbott dying.  They decided to bring him back as Jack’s conscious, and he would appear in scenes with Jack and talk to him.  I thought “C’mon. This is The Young and the Restless, and I am doing a ‘ghost’ storyline?”  I fought it and I didn’t like it, and I was wrong.  It was fantastic, and it worked great, and the audience liked it.  I learned from it.   I don’t go, “Whaaat?” that much anymore.  There have been a few of those including: the whole doppelganger story, while it confused me at times, and I thought this had gone a few steps too far, but it led us to Billy/Phyllis/Jack story. It was a direct line to that, and one of the most dynamic storylines I have ever been in.  So, I see this current story, and I go, “That is an interesting turn.”  Then, as an actor, I dig into it.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Jack wants to exhume Phillip’s body and everybody from Jill to Cane is objecting.  Esther (Kate Linder) is worried Mrs. C. will roll over in her grave if he does this move.  As we will see, Jack does not take “no” for answer.

PETER:  Jack eventually all but gives up, but then a door opens slightly for him to look at this a different way   Jack reluctantly walks through that door.

Do you think Jack has ever thought of the possibility of: “What if I am the son of someone from the circus … or the former pool boy at the country club?”

PETER:  I have thought it’s amusing when I have met people who have explored their past lives. They have always been a prince or a princess. They were never menial laborers.  I think he looks back and is kind of curious.  I think Jill points it out to him that he is not at all suspicious that he is the pool boy, or the golf pro’s offspring?  He knows the tryst happened at the country club, and so the first person you think of is one of the elite of the country club. 

Courtesy/CBS

It would be such a huge devastating fall for Jack if something like that turned out to be true!  Jack so wants to belong to a family that has wealth and prestige that goes along with their name.  I wonder what it would be like if he had to say, “Yes. It’s true.  I am the pool boy’s son!” (Laughs)

PETER:  I don’t know how that would fit Jack.

How is working with the latest Kyle, you’re on-screen son, played by Michael Mealor? The part had been recast multiple times and the actor didn’t stick.

PETER:  I cannot say enough good things about Michael.  This is an extremely disciplined, very talented, and very professional guy.  I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him.  I think he is doing a great job.  Michael gets looser every show.  He likes to take big chances and try a lot of things.  We have had a lot of young actors on the show and what they do is try to project that they are cool.  They don’t go outside of the, “I’m going to be cool, and honest, and real.”  They say, “I am going to be solid, and make simple choices.”  Michael takes big chances doing large stuff, and going overboard  That’s scary do to as an actor, but I watch him in scenes with Hunter King (Summer) where he is trying to appear cool, but just her physical prescience gets to him.  You can see it in his performances and it’s wonderful to watch.   It’s lovely to see in a 26-year-old and it’s fantastic.  I have high hopes for Michael.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

This version of Kyle seems to be a bit of a chip-off-the-old-block.  He can play dirty just like his dad!

PETER:  As far as where Kyle is at … he is like Jack Abbott.  He is not a good guy, nor a bad guy.  Kyle is a bit of an opportunist with a heart, who wants to feel a part of things, but he also takes advantage of the situation, in a way that sometimes works against that. 

We saw Jack stumble and drink again as he fights his addiction when learning the news that John is not is biological father.  Do you see him stumbling again, and going back to popping pills and booze, if Phillip Chancellor II were not to wind up being his dad?

PETER:  I don’t know if he will see him spiraling, but it is worth saying for someone who is a constant and has a had guiding light of  ‘what’s right, and what’s wrong” and that now has been taken away from him essentially when John Abbot goes “Jack!”, that is a game-changer.  What we can expect from Jack now may change.  Jack isn’t as bound by “what would dad do” as he once was.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So, we may be surprised with a turn in attitude from Jack?

PETER:  You may be surprised.  So much of his life, and certainly so much of what I play is that Jack has spent his whole life trying to be like John Abbott, because John Abbott is his father.   Now that is not so. So, how much effort should Jack be putting in to being like John Abbott?

Good point!

PETER:  It will be interesting to see where that goes!

We have seen many actors in the soaps portray drug and alcohol addiction. When Jack’s played itself out originally, it was one of the most harrowing to watch.

PETER:  He got to a dark place very fast.  It was out of control.  It was an important part of the Phyllis (Gina Tognoni) and Jack story, because he honestly did not have the strength to do it by himself, and he had somebody to help him through it   As it turned out, it was a formative experience for Jack and for Phyllis; one that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. They know things about each other that the rest of the world does not know.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Billy recently read Jack the riot act, when Jack told his brother about being Phillip Chancellor’s son.  Having had it with Jack, Billy threw him out of his office.  Where do you think the relationship stands between the brothers at this point?

PETER:  It’s really hard for Jack.  He is still on the board at Jabot.  He has family ties there, and he still gets the checks, but it feels so weird for him, it really does.  He is trying to be a bigger man and let Billy do what Billy is going to do.  Deep down inside Jack has known Billy for a really long time, and when Billy sort of combusts, boy, does he go! Jack hates that Billy is holding the reins of Jabot, if things fall apart for Billy.

Viewers are seeing Billy turning to gambling again.  What would Jack do if he finds out what is happening to his brother?

PETER:  I don’t know what he could do.  I am not sure what he could do to stop the CEO of the company as things currently stand.  It’s hard for Jack to relax around Billy. It’s not a promising situation.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you think the Jack and Bill will ultimately be there for each other when the chips are down moving forward?

PETER:  Jack has a soft place in his heart for addicts for reasons we both know, and a soft spot for family.  It will be interesting to see how well Jack’s patience holds up, if Billy should go down that particular rabbit hole.

Do you think Jack might visit Chancellor Park and have a chat with the late Katherine about the revelation about Phillip and Dina?

PETER:  I think Jack is really trying to be realistic about all of this.  It could clearly be proven, but he is impatient.  He could wait for Chance and Phillip III to come back from their Himalayan trip, but he does not want to wait.  It’s just so easy if everyone would be practical about this, and get some fragment of Phillip’s remains, and there would be a DNA test.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Jack’s nemesis, Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) is having a lot of issues, too.  This includes his mysterious health diagnosis …

PETER:  Oh, damn! (Laughs)

How does Jack feel about Victor these days and the plight that he is in?

PETER:  Jack has such contempt for Victor.  However, Jack can occasionally see that Victor is important to some people, but Victor to Jack is everything that is wrong in the world.  As to the fact that he is struggling right now, does Jack wish bad physical health on him, or anybody?  No. However, if things didn’t go easily for Victor, Jack would not lose any sleep over it.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Don’t you think it’s time for Jack to have a real, honest-to-goodness, love interest?

PETER:  Jack should have a new love interest.  I think the writers and the producers of The Young and the Restless are paying me a lot for half of what I do.

Jack should find true love.  Someone who will be with him and whom he loves with all his heart, and someone who loves him back, flaws and all.  A romance where he is not manipulating her, or she is not manipulating him, for financial or corporate gain.   Do you think at this point that is even possible?

PETER:  I think that would be a swell thing, but that would be a daytime show investing in an actress that is over 40-years-old.  They have done it, but it’s a rare thing.  But yes, I do feel like we are seeing two-thirds of Jack.  There is another third of him that is completely unexplored and that’s a shame.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

We saw those heartbreaking scenes that aired last year where Jack had to admit to Ashley that his mother has Alzheimer’s.  How is he going to continue in his relationship with Dina knowing she has had multiple affairs throughout her life, and when married to John?

PETER:  This is a real difficult place for Jack.  Obviously, he has his mother back in his life in one sense, but his mother has been responsible for pretty much everything that has gone wrong in his life over the last two years.  It’s just one thing after another.  Had his mother been faithful to John, Jack would not be in this situation.  Had his mother not returned, we could have gone on with life as it was, and now all this mess is in part Dina’s doing.  Now, Jack has moved out of the house and so his mother is slipping away by the minute, and Jack is not around for it.  He keeps visiting, and he keeps stopping by, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough.  Jack struggles with that a lot.  He should be more in Dina’s life and be around for that, but being around for that means being in the Abbott house.  Everywhere he looks are reminders that he is not who he told himself he is for his entire life.

One of the more endearing moments came at this year’s Daytime Emmys, after Eileen Davidson (Ashley, Y&R) took to the stage to accept her award for Outstanding Lead Actress.  She thanked you while you were in the audience.

PETER:  This is in keeping with my new plan for the Emmys each year,  What I do is: I try to get a nomination so that I can sit in the audience after I have lost and hear the winner for Lead Actress thank me personally. (Laughs)  I am two for two in the last two years! (Laughs) Gina Tognoni had won that category the year prior.  Eileen Davidson is the greatest, and she has been for all intent and purposes my leading lady on Y&R.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Now, Eileen Davidson has announced, and made the decision to leave her role as Ashley.

PETER:   I can’t say enough things about her.  I adore her … I adored working with her. She is every bit as good as everybody thinks she is.  She comes to work prepared   She never needs hand- holding or spoon-feeding.  Eileen is the real deal; had she been one of Jack’s lovers that would have been over a long time ago.  The fact that she is his sister is fantastic.  Now with her exiting the show, I will miss her terribly.

In closing, viewers should watch for Jack’s next move?

PETER:  Jack is not leaving any stone unturned.  He has to figure out who he is, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

So, do you think Phillip Chancellor II is truly Jack’s biological father?  If not, who do you think is?  What have you thought of Peter Bergman’s performance in the storyline? Would you like to see Jack have a new love interest?  If so, who would you like to see the series bring onto the show to play opposite him? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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